Merging fashion with entrepreneurial prowess, Donna Ida Thornton has fast become one of the most aspirational and glamorous business figures to hit the London scene. CEO of luxury denim boutique and e-store, Donna Ida , her journey to the top acts as ample inspiration for anyone looking to turn a vision into a lucrative company.
Capitalising on the idea that every woman should be able to find a pair jeans that actually fits no matter their body shape, the company offers an innovative Denim Clinic to provide a comprehensive masterclass in finding their perfect match that caters for pear, curvy, boyish, apple and petite body types and more.
With a bevy of boutiques and an e-store now under her belt, we caught up with the Sydney-born fashion mogul to talk motivation, leadership, breaking into the industry and overcoming her biggest hurdles.
GTG: What attracted you to your role?
DIT: I worked in marketing previously and I really didn't enjoy it, though I actually learnt a lot which I now use in my job every day. I wanted to be in control of my own destiny and have creative freedom, and that meant starting my own company. To me, having ultimate freedom was very attractive.
GTG: What has been the toughest part of your career to date?
DIT: From having the idea, writing the business plan, raising the money and getting the doors of the first boutique open - that 12 months was hard. Getting it off the ground took a big push and there have been harder things since then, but that first part I wouldn't want to have to do again. It was lonely and hard - that really tests you and you have to WANT to do it. That first stage really sorts the men out from the boys.
GTG: Do you have a mentor and how have they helped you?
DIT: I don't have a mentor but I take advice and learn from a lot of people along the way, always people who have learnt through trial and error and made good decisions and bad decisions. I have always been attracted to people who are older than me, both in my business and personal life, because I know that experience is one thing you can't buy or teach. You just have to live and learn, and I am always looking for that glimpse of truth or nugget of knowledge that I can take from someone else. But there is no easy way, the best way is always the hard way, and you just have to get in there and do it yourself.
GTG: What was the worst job you ever did?
DIT: I don't know about the worst, but certainly the hardest was waitressing. Before I left Australia in 1998, I had to clear the wake of credit card debt that trailed behind me so I worked about 5 jobs for a year to tidy everything up and save money. Every night I worked at The Keg (not the chicest of establishments) waiting tables and it is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. Keeping in touch with the kitchen, how fast it is moving, how fast your tables are turning, it was a living nightmare. Never mind the drinks I spilled - all into laps of course. But my competitive nature kept me there and I lived for the tips and woke my sister up every night when I got home each night and made her rub my feet while I counted my tips. She was hugely relieved when I finally left!
During that time I also sold advertising for a used car magazine (I lasted one shift but I sold! And earned commission!) and I also worked in the call centre for Pizza Hut taking the orders for home delivery. That was horrific. Ok, maybe that was the worst job.